Hall of Fame driver Doug Brown says he’s not sure what would have happened to his career if a horse named Brets Counsel had not come along at an opportune time.
“We were just starting out at Greenwood and Mohawk at the time,” Brown said. “We bought him when I was just 19 or 20. We bought him from Frank Conlin. I think we gave $15,000 for him and he ended up being a free-for-aller and a very consistent free-for-aller.”
Brets Counsel, a son of Bret Hanover out of Poplar Juliann, was foaled in 1973, when Brown was 18. The pacer earned just shy of $110,000, posted 31 lifetime wins and scored a career mark of 1:59.3 at Mohawk.
For 10 consecutive years from 1988-1997, Brown held a firm grip on the (former) Ontario Jockey Club’s (OJC) driver standings where he averaged 345.5 wins per year over the stretch. He was the circuit’s first driver to break the 400-win plateau, accomplishing it twice in back-to-back seasons with 411 (1994) and 417 (in 1995). He was also the first OJC driver to top both $4 million (1989) and $5 million (1995) in a single season.
More importantly, Bret’s Counsel provided a launching pad to nearly 8,500 wins, almost $90 million in earnings, a whopping eight awards as Canada’s top driver — including four in a row from 1993 to 1996 — and induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.
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